There are days when I just have to wonder why I bother with Great War fiction – because Great War fact is so much odder and so much more surprising. Here’s an article from The Times of Jan 23rd, 1915:


This is the sort of thing that doesn’t get into the fiction. Even George Sherston, that most dedicated of fox-hunting men, doesn’t get any hunting in while in France, does he? In fact, as he nears the war zone, Sassoon has him thinking:

The sober-coloured country all the way from Etaples had looked lifeless and unattractive, I thought. But one couldn’t expect much on a starved grey November morning. A hopeless hunting country, it looked…

Sassoon identifies hunting as an important part of Army culture, though, and Sherston “always found it was a distinct asset, when in close contact with  members of the Regular Army, to be able to converse convincingly about hunting.”

Other ranks in books by Patrick MacGill and  Frederic Manning do a bit of poaching, but I can’t think of any wartime hunters among fictional officers. Now I’m trying to imagine the intense and troubled officers of Pat Barker’s fiction yoicksing and Jorrocksing across the hunting field…

One Comment

  1. Posted January 11, 2008 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I was also surprised to discover that the BEF had horse shows in France. In the illustrations of the unit history I’m digitizing, among all the portraits of officers killed at Loos and photos of the battalion colours, there’s a page proudly displaying the rosettes won by the transport section!

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